Release Date: May 27, 2016
Record label: Side One Dummy
PUP's 2014 self-titled debut was their way of introducing you to their brand of indie/pop-punk, but more so, catchy, spunky punk with attitude for days. The Dream Is Over finds the band building on their gang-vocals and shout-along anthems, becoming even more unhinged, louder and much more direct than ever. To say this record is full of intent, more than the last, would be a gross understatement as the album's title plays off the doctor's message to singer, Stefan Babcock, after damaging his vocals.
The words spoken to PUP vocalist/guitarist Stefan Babcock by a throat specialist give The Dream is Over its title. Following two years of hard touring and harder living, the frantic, flailing, self-destructive but immensely enjoyable shows in support of their debut record had taken their toll. How Babcock came back from that point, now finding himself the leader of a band who have not mellowed but certainly developed more strings to their punk rock bow, seems irrelevant - here they are, raging, whirling and screaming once more.
Review Summary: An act of rebellionFollowing the success of their debut album, Toronto’s PUP began touring to the level of excess and insanity. Not only did they squash their goal to perform 200 shows in a year, they kept on going until they were forced off tour due to a serious vocal cord injury inflicted upon Stefan Babcock. It was nearly the demise of the band, with the vocalist recovering from a hemorrhaging cyst, and receiving doctor’s orders to quit touring altogether.
“I’m growing up and giving in,” sings PUP’s Stefan Babcock in ‘Can’t Win’, a statement that, based on the rest of the Canadians’ follow-up to their 2014 self-titled debut, he probably doesn’t mean. Theirs is a tightly-wound coil of self-deprecation, wasted opportunity and bubbling-under garage punk. You’d harbour a guess their collective record collections (and recreational activities, for that matter) would match those of kindred spirits FIDLAR and Wavves.
Surviving too many months in the van and a resultant vocal cord scare for frontman Stefan Babcock, Canadian punks PUP live to tell another tale on their sophomore release, The Dream Is Over. Using the glib prognosis from Babcock's doctor as both their album title and rallying cry, the Toronto-based quartet come off even more ferocious than before on this spirited ten-song effort. With their strong hooks, gang vocals, and spastic transitions, PUP offer a visceral mix of unity and chaos.
If you're a Canadian into punk rock, chances are you've already of PUP, and have been itching to hear the Toronto band's second album, The Dream Is Over. The group broke out with their infectious, sing-along brand of catchy-as-hell punk rock in 2013, and haven't lost a lick of their charm or intensity since; the follow-up to the group's energizing self-titled debut is bigger, heavier, faster and louder this time around.And yet, there's still plenty here for more than just the punks. PUP's finest quality is that they can be relentlessly confrontational and equally self-critical, all with a smile on their face.
On a surface level, PUP’s second album is this year’s Celebration Rock or The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us: a half hour of capital-R Rock music, nothing but glorious redlining guitars and pile-on group chants that should be banned in cars for safety purposes. It’s deeply unfashionable and equally vital-sounding, the everyman/Superman appeal of all three enhanced by the setbacks in their origin story. Every review of The Dream is Over is obligated to mention the inspiration behind the album title—after literally shredding his vocal cords, Stefan Babcock was told by a doctor, “the dream is over.
The music video for “Reservoir”, the lead single off PUP’s self-titled 2014 debut, begins as a sweaty punk show and ends up a horror movie. Broken bass strings slash across faces, shattered cymbals slice their way into flesh, and blood splatters across the floor of the venue. The whole scene is a jarring affront to the “safe spaces” policy that has become so prevalent in the punk scene in the last few years.
Turns out the dream isn't over. A snotty, millennial-punk blast of piss and vinegar recorded in defiance of the doctor who told vocalist Stefan Babcock that he’d never sing again.‘The Dream Is Over’ is also surprisingly fun and upbeat. Sonically, the Toronto quartet come off like a band holed up in a garage working out frustrations, yet lyrically theirs is a glass half-full outlook on life despite the torrent of bullshit that’d forgive an altogether more bleak vibe.Bonus shout outs for the use of “douche chills” on ‘Familiar Patterns’, too.
Stefan Babcock wants his band dead and it sounds like they might deserve it. The frontman kicks off the first song from PUP’s sophomore LP with “If this tour doesn’t kill you, then I will / I hate your guts and it makes me ill.” He doesn’t let up from there: “Everything you do makes me want to vomit / If this tour doesn’t kill you, buddy, I’m on it.” The official video for the track depicts the message with literal violence, each member getting their turn at maiming and murdering one another. This is how they chose to open their new album; it’s also the best track on it.
It hasn’t been an easy journey for PUP. After facing down the possibility that their dream was well and truly over when their frontman suffered vocal cord damage following months on the road, the band have dragged themselves from the edge of uncertainty. “Nothing’s working and the future’s looking bleak,” Stefan Babcock snarls on lead album track “DVP”.
The fact that Toronto’s PUP—which stands for Pointless Use of Potential—even made it to a second record is astounding. After the release of its self-titled debut, the band hit the road hard, touring almost constantly for two years and playing hundreds of shows. All that hard work was starting to pay off, but when the band went back out on the road, PUP vocalist-guitarist Stefan Babcock made a visit to a doctor’s office.
The month of May certainly didn't overwhelm Carl and I as much as last month did, but it was still chock-full with important releases to whet our appetites until the summer begins. Carl was also significantly more generous - though he's completely enamored by James Blake's winning streak, I ….